(Toronto) A saliva-based COVID-19 test will likely be available this fall, say public and private health officials touting various methods being considered across the country as queues multiply for testing and as cases emerge in newly reopened schools.
The Director of Microbiology and Laboratory Sciences at Public Health Ontario lists several issues that need to be addressed before widespread provincial use, but she expects saliva collection to make it easier to detect infection soon, especially in patients. children and others who cannot tolerate a nasopharyngeal swab.
“I anticipate this will be a short term option,” said the Dre Vanessa Allen in a recent interview.
“We are aiming for a few weeks or a few months. Later this fall looks very likely. ”
Although not as precise as the reference method – in which a long, flexible swab is inserted deep into the nostril – saliva collection is easier, meaning this approach could identify infections in people. which otherwise would not be tested but should be, said Mme Allen.
To be clear, this is not about home saliva tests that generate an immediate result, but lab tests that use the same molecular analysis to detect the new coronavirus in a nasopharyngeal sample.
Basically, the only difference is the type of specimen taken.
In this regard, analyzing the sample is neither easier nor faster, as it essentially requires the same trained laboratory staff, the same machines and chemicals that are used for traditional methods – some of which have made the subject of global supply chain problems early in the pandemic.
However, at the collection stage, saliva-based detection could save high-demand health resources and supplies, such as personal protective equipment and nurses, explains Dre Jenisa Naidoo, Scientific Director of the analytical and laboratory company Dynacare.
Mme Naidoo claims the company has developed a proven technique that is 98.4% as accurate as the standard nasopharyngeal method.
It allows patients to collect their own sample, thereby avoiding close contact with a public health nurse who may need personal protective equipment.
“The patient can literally spit into a vial or tube and you can use this method rather than having a tampon stuck in your nose or throat,” says Mme Naidoo, whose study did not focus on screening children.
Brampton, Ont., Dynacare, which has 231 locations in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, says it is developing plans for “initial deployment with all of our public and private sector stakeholders.”